Riak upgrades cloud database with multi-datacentre redundancy

The new upgrade to Riak Cloud Storage is compatible with Amazon Web Services and allows cloud admins to replicate data between multiple datacentres - potentially letting them avoid downtime and spin up their own global clouds.
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Database company Basho has upgraded its Riak Cloud Storage technology to have multi-datacentre replication, giving wannabe cloud providers a tool for storing data across the world.

The update was announced on Friday and lets administrators sync data between different datacentres across the world via standard TCP (secured with SSL encryption). The Riak database is fully compatible with Amazon Web Services's S3 storage APIs.

Combined with multi-datacentre replication, the technology helps companies build on top of Amazon Web Services while protecting their data against failures by replicating it across continents, avoiding the problems that befall companies that only locate their data in one of Amazon's global datacentre hubs. 

"Customers of RiakCS fall into one or two characters... enterprises which are mostly internal,
and service providers," Andy Gross, Basho's chief architect, said. "For the enterprise it [gives] redundancy, fault tolerance, disaster recovery [and it] lets service providers offer a true global scale cloud offering."

RiakCS has two data replication options for cloud administrators: full sync and real-time sync. Full sync copies data from a primary RiakCS store to a secondary site at a frequency of administrators' choosing, though the default is six hours. The secondary data stores regularly ask the primary datastore whether anything has changed and, if it has, they will update their own data to bring it in line.

Real-time sync, meanwhile, triggers when a person requests information from a RiakCS pile of data. If they are requesting from a secondary site, the database will check with the primary to see if anything has changed and update accordingly, while if they are requesting data from the primary, there's no wait.

Though the technology has a number of handy features it also highlights the technological gulf between small start-ups and some of the world's largest cloud providers.

Google's Spanner globally consistent database allows for multi-datacentre replication but cuts the need for individual datacentres to talk as much with one another by using a Google-invented API for the passage of time, known as TrueTime, which depends on GPS receivers and atomic clocks.

This lets Google respond to local datacentre requests much faster than other technologies some of the time, as it means in data-read cases it sometimes does not need to sync globally.

"Our solution is probably simpler than Spanner," Gross said, adding: "it's not synchronous, but it is a similar capability."

For now unless you work at Google you can't design applications on Spanner, so Riak may be a good bet. However, given Google's aggressive moves with its Google Compute Engine cloud platform against Amazon Web Services, there is a chance that it could start offering the technology soon.

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